The 2011 Polaris Prize Long List

It’s the time of year that has me excited. It’s the Polaris Prize, the Canadian equivalent of The Mercury Prize. It is a cash prize that goes to the band that produces the best CANADIAN album of the year. I have been eagerly awaiting this list announcement, because I firmly believe that one album alone can win this year, but I’m curious to see what will end up competing against it.

The long list of Forty (!) albums, that somehow doesn’t have Sarah Harmer’s Oh Little Fire on the list, follows after the cut, along with some light commentary.

The albums on the Longlist are:

The Arcade Fire The Suburbs

Austra Feel It Break

Black Mountain Wilderness Heart

Braids Native Speakers

Buck 65 20 Odd Years

Louise Burns Mellow Drama

D-Sisive Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye

The Dears Degeneration Street

Destroyer Kaputt

Diamond Rings Special Affectations

Dirty Beaches Badlands

Luke Doucet and the White Falcon Steel City Trawler

Eternia and MoSS At Last

Galaxie Tigre Et Diesel

Jenn Grant Honeymoon Punch

Tim Hecker Ravedeath, 1972

Hey Rosetta! Seeds

Hooded Fang Album

Imaginary Cities Temporary Resident

Land of Talk Cloak and Cipher

Little Scream The Golden Record

The Luyas Too Beautiful To Work

Malajube La Caverne

Miracle Fortress Was I The Wave?

One Hundred Dollars Songs of Man

Doug Paisley Constant Companion

P.S. I Love You Meet Me at the Muster Station

Daniel Romano Sleep Beneath the Willow

The Rural Alberta Advantage Departing

Ron Sexsmith Long Player Late Bloomer

Shotgun Jimmie Transistor Sister

Sloan The Double Cross

Frederick Squire March 12

Stars The Five Ghosts

Colin Stetson New History of Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

Timber Timbre Creep on Creepin’ On

The Weeknd House of Balloons

Women Public Strain

Neil Young Le Noise

Young Galaxy Shapeshifting (warning, site has autoplay of sound track)

So, of this list, I know three-quarters of the artists on sight, half by sound, and about a half-dozen I own substantial sections of their discography. In the case of Neil Young and Arcade fire, I own all their albums.

I really don’t see a top ten without Young or Arcade Fire, and most likely Sloan and Sexsmith. Malajube will most like land on the list, as will D-Sisive and Buck 65.  That leave three spaces for the newer, less established bands. I pick Rural Alberta Advantage for being Albertan and putting out a really kick ass record, Hey Rosetta! and Jenn Grant.  I see Stars and the Dears both falling into the New Pornographers trap- the music field is just so diverse and so good, that these established bands get the shaft by simply being not as good as they have been in the past.

And I really don’t see how Arcade Fire doesn’t win it all in the end.  It’s one of the best albums of 2010, its won a Grammy, a Brit, and a Juno. Neil Young might make it interesting, but as fantastic as Le Noise is, it can’t possibly beat The Suburbs. I’m of the mindset that is the Beatles were Canadian and released Sargent Pepper’s now, they could beat Arcade Fire. That’s how incredible the record is and how it has consumed Canadian music this past year.

I wish it would be exciting, for the award’s sake. I just don’t think it can lose.



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